Mary Norwood didn’t wait for the full election results and neither did her supporters.
They filed out of the election watch party in Buckhead soon after 11 p.m., when only a small portion of precincts had been counted.
The council member’s spot in the final two seemed like a forgone conclusion. She barely lost the runoff in 2009 against Mayor Kasim Reed.
Before leaving, Norwood said she was confident this time would be different.
“I know our ground game. I know we have thousands of yard signs. I know we have support in every corner of the city. I think that is a great position of strength going into a runoff,” Norwood said.
Many of the supporters at the party had stuck with Norwood over the last eight years.
They came from Buckhead, where Norwood earned most of her votes, but also from South and West Atlanta.
Regina Ector Heard lives near Lakewood and said she backs Norwood because the council member helps out in her community.
Asked if this year could be different from 2009, Heard said, “I hope so, I really do.”
Keisha Lance Bottoms
After leading at the polls all evening, Keisha Lance Bottoms took the stage just after midnight at the Hyatt Regency downtown. A DJ played Drake’s “Started from the Bottom” as she entered, flanked by family and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.
Her speech to supporters early Wednesday touched on her family’s history, transportation and education.
“It is our responsibility — not just for those of you in this room, but for the people who don’t have bus fare to get into this room — it is our responsibility to make decisions for them, to make things possible for them,” Bottoms said.
Supporter Eric Borders said he was looking forward to a shift in the mayoral race as voters move on to deciding between just two candidates.
“I’m hopeful it’ll be more of an issues-focused campaign than a negative campaign” said Borders.
Many both in and outside of Atlanta have wondered how much the race of the candidates will play into voters’ decisions in a runoff. Asked about it last night, Bottoms said she thought qualifications would ultimately transcend that issue.
As she addressed the crowd, however, she paraphrased a line from Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise”: “I am the hope of the slave.”
“I stand here with the blood of slaves and slave owners running through my veins,” Bottoms said. “And I look at each of you and I’m reminded what is possible in this city.”
Chinye Enurah said she thinks Atlanta is a “mature enough city” to elect a mayor regardless of their race. But she was confident Bottoms could better manage bringing together interests on either end of the economic spectrum in an Atlanta experiencing rapid growth.
“There are people that helped build this city that can’t afford to stay in their homes in this city. Gentrification is pushing them out,” said Enurah.
Earlier in the evening, Reed told reporters he thought Bottoms, behind whom he’s thrown his full weight since campaigning began, would be unbeatable in a runoff.
Norwood and Bottoms will face each other at the polls again on Dec. 5.